Okay..I am a little obsessed with fitness levels of my dogs. Are they getting enough exercise? Are they gaining weight? Am I feeding them the right diet? Are they in proper condition? Do you the have a strong core? And on and on and on.... I spend a lot of time and energy on making sure I my dogs get the right amount of exercise, eat right, and in general are healthy....arguably more time and energy that I spend on myself in this area!
A while back I saw a great post about how to tell if your dog was the correct weight and with proper muscle tone. It demonstrated how your dog should feel when you rub your fingers over their ribs.
It gave an example using your hand. When holding your had out, palm facing down, run your fingers across the top of your hand at the knuckle. This is what a fit, well muscled dog should feel like. If you turn your hand over, palm facing up, and run your fingers across the knuckle area, this is what a dog feels like that is probably the correct weight or just slightly over, but not well muscled. A lot more padding on the ribs.
The final example was to hold your hand palm facing up and run your fingers over the heal of your hand. This is what an overweight dog feels like when you touch his ribs. Probably firm, but you are not able to feel his ribs at all. I really liked this analogy, much more than the concept of being able to see your dog's waist or an hour glass shape.
I think the hour glass method is easy if you have a short coated breed, however, a whole lot harder to do with a heavily coated dog. This is also a good way to gauge your dog's muscle tone, especially if your dog is at or close to the right weight, but maybe not that strong in his core area.
The reality is, that while we can carry a few extra pounds, no harm no foul, extra weight can be very dangerous for our dogs to carry. Even an extra pound is a lot on a dog....and it doesn't take much to add on an extra pound. The flip side to it, is that it also doesn't take much to lose a pound for a dog either. Without changing dramatically, it can be a simple as cutting back just a little on food and increasing exercise a little. Feeding using a measuring cup is all it takes to make sure you don't over feed your dog at mealtimes. If only it was that easy for me....